No, this is not an April Fool’s Joke, instead the Blog-Tour for Vixenhead by Eve Seymour is a fabulous pre-Easter treat featuring a fantastic guest post by Eve Seymour!
About the Author
Eve Seymour was born in West Bromwich in the West Midlands and spent much of her early years in the surrounding area. Through an unhappy chain of events, she was sent away to school in Malvern then Cheltenham, later fleeing institutional life for the bright lights of the Edinburgh Festival. Captivated by the city, she decided to stay – home being a grotty bed-sit next to a football ground – and paid the rent by selling stationery supplies.
After a move to London, she began an arts degree, which she dropped out of to join a public relations consultancy – home moving up several gears to a flat in Kensington, shared with a couple of old school-friends. During her P.R. career, she was involved in a number of accounts, mainly medical and nutritional, and included the Woman’s Own Children of Courage awards, which she ran for two years. After another move to a P.R. consultancy in Birmingham, she married and moved to South Devon. Five children later, she began writing in her spare time. Previous writing credits include a number of short stories broadcast on BBC Radio Devon, and articles in Devon Today magazine. She has since bent the ears of a number of police officers in Devon, West Mercia and West Midlands, including Scenes of Crime and firearms, in a ruthless bid to make her writing career more enduring than previous attempts.
About the book
Somewhere in Vixenhead, I’m certain the truth lies…
A sudden disappearance…When Roz Outlaw’s partner Tom mysteriously vanishes, she knows his life is in danger. Tom has been distracted lately, afraid, as though he is being hunted…
A desperate search…With the police showing little interest Roz knows it falls to her to find Tom. But as Tom’s secrets are uncovered nothing can prepare Roz for the dark lies and twisted truths she finds. She thought she loved Tom, but quickly realises she has been living with a stranger – a man with murder in his past.
A house of evil… The key to unlocking Tom’s past lies in his childhood home – Vixenhead. A house of wickedness that keeps its secrets well hidden. Can Roz find Tom before it’s too late or will the evil within Vixenhead claim her too…
The Writing Process by Eve Seymour
My writing process has evolved over the years. I used to be very technical and write pages of character profiles in long hand, followed by sixty page ‘treatments’ for plot purposes. A ‘treatment’ would consist of spelling out the inciting incident (the event from which the story sparks) followed by Acts broken down into scenes, broken down into turning points (revelations). In other words, ‘Plan, Plan and Plan!’ The ‘big finish’ (when main player comes up against main foe) was always quite detailed before I put pen to paper – or rather fingers to keyboard.
When writing spy fiction I carried out an enormous amount of research on intelligence agencies and on chains of command within the intelligence cycle. This would also involve looking at the politics of countries as well as reading up and talking to people involved in organizations like the United Nations and The Refugee Council. After assimilating every piece of information, I’d work out a storyline and then write. I still work on detailed character profiles but the actual plotting is more relaxed. The terrific thing about writing psychological thrillers with strong family dynamics is that little research is required. Either it’s imagined, or drawn from direct personal experience. I reckon most writers are amateur psychologists and it’s really important to understand how people tick. It’s also something that deeply interests me. Given another life, I would choose clinical psychology as a profession.
While a premise for a novel might spring to mind randomly and quite quickly, I may spend many months ‘noodling’. For this, I use a new notebook and simply jot down ideas, interesting lines I might overhear in a restaurant – I’m a terrible eavesdropper – and character traits. The longer I wait, the more ideas bed down. Again, the ones that aren’t workable, no matter how I approach them, are jettisoned. There comes a saturation point when I simply sit down and throw away most of what I compiled. What’s left is then put into some kind of order that only makes sense to me, and then I write the first draft. During that time, I might go ‘off piste’. This often occurs when a character doesn’t quite behave in the way I first imagined. However I’m quite structured so always find my way back to the main thrust of the storyline.
For Vixenhead, some of the above went out through the proverbial window. I had the idea for the story many years ago, but couldn’t think of a way to make it work. The ‘light bulb’ moment occurred when I hit on the idea of a dual narrative – something I’d never done before. Only through writing and crafting the story did I discover that dual narratives come with an attached risk: if you aren’t careful, the wrong character gets the equivalent of prime time viewing. Initially, I found it hard to strike the right balance. Several drafts later, it became obvious that Roz Outlaw should take precedence over her missing man, Tom Loxley.
In the early days, I’d schedule sixteen weeks or so of writing time to fashion a first draft. It felt slightly like running a marathon and I’d be quite pedantic about jotting down a word count each day. With ‘Vixenhead,’ I sprinted through the first draft in short bursts – no word counts. This method would take the form of a week on, maybe a couple of weeks off, to fit it around my day job and family commitments. The advantage: it gave me a chance to think about the story when I wasn’t writing. I then returned to it with fresh eyes and revised. Personally, I think it also helped to increase pace and tension. There wasn’t that awful temptation to slump into snooze time mid section. After the first draft was buttoned down, I concentrated more fully on writing and revising over longer periods of time.
As with most stories, the editing process continues after a publisher decides to publish a book. This is always the scary bit. They’ve said ‘yes’ and yet there is always a ‘but’. Seeing someone else’s take on the novel you’ve spent so much time crafting can be a tad daunting – even when your editor is spot-on with comments and suggestions. Next, comes the ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’ moment because most writers, and I’m no exception, can be quite blinded by the words they lovingly put on the page. I usually deal with this by shouting a lot followed by doing absolutely nothing for a few days. Once my editor’s suggestions have time to percolate, I usually (and often with a red-face) see a clear way forward and think how dim I was not to have seen it before. It’s fair to say that, with ‘Vixenhead’, Charlotte Ledger’s insightful suggestions made my story so much better than I could have dreamed up on my own.
So, for me, ‘Vixenhead’ was a great adventure in terms of content, character and the way in which I crafted the story. I hope some of that thrill shines through.